Jonah Died In the Whale

First note that this is not a greatly supported teaching…  Like most bible believers, I once believed that Jonah miraculously lived in the belly of the whale for 3 days before he was spit up onto land to warn the people of Nineveh to turn to God.  The more I studied the situation and the language, the more I realized that it’s a strong possibility that Jonah died in the whale and was resurrected.

Jonah died in the whale

Jesus & Jonah Died and Went to Sheol

Jonah is a type of Christ.  Here’s what Jesus said:

Matthew 12:39-40 – “But he (Jesus) answered and said unto them (religious leaders), An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

[Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly] – Yes, a whale’s belly, not just “a great fish” as some insist because of Jonah 1:17.

[the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth] – Was Jesus alive in the ground?  No, and neither was Jonah alive in the whale.  Jesus died and went to Sheol, as did everyone who died in those days.

For more information, see “Where is Hell?” and “Death – Where People Go When They Die”.


Jonah 2:1-2 – “Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.”

[the fish’s belly] – belly H4578 = the stomach, abdomen, inside or outside part of the belly.  Note that this word is different than that used in “the belly of hell”.

[the belly of hell] – belly H0990 = the belly, the womb, or of depth of Sheol (fig.).  Hell H7585 = š ‘ôl; Sheol, the world of the dead, abode of the dead.  In other words, Jonah’s soul was in the pits of hell.  The “belly” here is not describing the whale’s stomach, but Sheol.


Jonah 2:6-7 – “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.  When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.”

[the bottoms of the mountains] – The bottoms of the seas, which were recorded to be the lowest parts of the earth, hence the gates of Hell (Job 38:16-17).  In the resurrection of the wicked dead, the seas give up their dead, and so does death and hell (Rev 20:13).  Note the connection between the bottoms of the seas and Hell.

[the earth with her bars was about me forever] – He was in the eternal place of Sheol where the bars, or “gates of hell” (Matt 16:18) had him locked up.  “I was going to stay in hell forever, but you brought my dead body back to life, up from corruption.

[thou brought up my life from corruption] – You brought me back from the dead.  See Acts 2:27.

[my soul fainted] – “I prayed from the whale, passed out, died, prayed from Sheol, and was resurrected.”

Kent Owen

Author: Kent Owen

After college I lived in China for 5 years, working as an English teacher and foreign marketing manager. Now i'm an insurance salesman, but my real passion is Christ and learning the bible.

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